“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

– Matthew 9:10-11

WHOSE TRIBE SHOULD WE BELONG TO?

At the end of a long hike, my wife Connie, and I visited a waterfall. Our treat for completing our trek. As I sat down, I placed my backpack next to me and began to pull out an apple for hard earned nourishment. Much to my surprise, I was immediately surrounded by a swarm of Yellow Jackets. I took my hat off to defend myself, but there were too many and both myself and Connie were stung. It was an angry mob of bees and I received at least five stings. We scurried away, wondering what we had done to cause such a stir. Later upon reflection, I concluded that I had unwittingly placed my back pack on the hole above their underground nest.

The bees were just doing what their instincts told them to do, they don’t have the mental ability to parcel out in their mind, real danger or an innocent person. They are programmed to just attack. It is what bees do when they perceive a threat. They have a button that goes off and they respond.

I also find this today with our politics, economic theories and social groupings. We form around like people and begin to say like things. Over time we morph into a collective group or tribe that no longer accepts outside input and attacks when new input arrives. Sometimes the attacks are worse than the fury of wronged bees.

When we hear something different than what we think, should we be like an angry mob of bees and automatically hit our pre-recorded responses in reply? Should we stop to think about the other person’s perspective and how they arrived at their opinion, even if It is different and threatening? The more comfort we have in the power of our group, the more resistant we are to new thoughts. New ideas are not welcome.

In the first century, the Pharisees were a group in charge and full of power. Over time that had twisted the ten commandments to support their beliefs and legalistically lorded themselves over the average Judean. Any attempt to have a different view point turned them into an angry mob, like my bees. They stung and they hurt.

When Jesus arrived, he did not choose any group to belong to, he chose all humankind, even the poor and the lowly tax collector. Jesus wasn’t about to join any tribe, he wanted to be near all and hear every story, even those called by the Pharisees, as sinners! Whose only crime may have been to have a different opinion.

Bees and tribes can sting. They can act without thinking about why they act. They become no more than a furious and angry mob. Not willing to stop and hear another point of view. A need to protect their status quo, as opposed to find the truth. No group is exempt and all groups have the same connecting fiber of a place of power for the individual who joins.

Jesus, only wants us to join one tribe, humankind. Regardless if they were polo shirts or have tattoo’s or are poor or are any other defining characteristics. We are all God’s people, even the Pharisees. Heck, even angry bees are God’s creatures.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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